Pressing issues - PERC funds autogas research
PERC has been established and is operated and funded by the LPG industry of the USA. As its name suggests, it serves to educate the public about the advantages of LPG and conduct research into promising new technologies utilising this affordable, green fuel. At the Council's July meeting support for ten LPG-related projects was approved and the sum of 2,47 million dollars has been allocated to fund them. Of the ten, three revolved strictly around autogas – LPG used as alternative motor fuel.
Fuel quality (sulphur content)
Sulphur content of conventional fuels is systematically reduced and so it must be reduced in LPG. While it's perfectly logical, it's a bit difficult technically, because the odorant that is used to make LPG easily detectable by smell is sulphur-based. Sulphur-free stenching agents are under development, but meanwhile PERC is founding a project by the Southwest Research Institute that will investigate the impact of sulphur on today's and tomorrow's cars' delicate exhaust aftertreatment systems. Since petrol's and diesel's sulphur content is dropping, cars' engines and systems are designed to be less and less sulphur-resistant, so this may be an issue when a switch to autogas is made. With over 100 thousand dollars in funding, the SRI will find out the actual effect sulphur has on autogas-powered engines and figure out a solution, should one be required.
Compatibility with future environmental regulations
Although autogas cuts tailpipe emissions – especially those of carbon dioxide and particulate matter – successfully today, emission standards are growing ever stricter and in a few years LPG may not offer as many advantages as motor fuels as it does now. This is why the Dunlap Group has been awarded 60 thousand dollars to produce a CARB (California Air Resources Board) Roadmap 2015. The document is supposed to inform California's rulemakers of autogas' inherent advantages, so that new regulations are more LPG-friendly and introduction of new technologies in the state is easier. This way the autogas industry will know what to expect and will better adapt products to meet future needs.
Well, it may be called the Euroconnector, but the truth is that nowhere in the world is it currently as popular as in the US. Its introduction has been greeted with much enthusiasm since it's simple, safe and very convenient to use. Of course, the advantages of it are also recognised in Europe, but the problem is Europe's autogas refueling infrastructure is already established, with several connector standards in operation for decades, so the cost and effort of switching to the Euroconnector are huge, while in the US the network of LPG stations is only developing, so it's that much easier to introduce a harmonised refueling valve standard. And so, PERC has half a million dollars to distribute among those willing to switch between older connectors and the Euroconnector to make sure the new standard is adopted across the country. Hopefully this will encourage other countries to finally make the transition.
Quite frankly, every country should have a PERC. Sure, there are local LPG associations supporting and promoting the fuel, but how many of them actually use the industry's money to fund initiatives designed to serve that industry's common well-being? We hope the grants awarded by PERC will be well spent and will push the US LPG industry in the direction of further growth.
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